REPORT | Philadelphia Union 1-1 Atlanta United (4-1 aggregate)
All photos courtesy of All About the Birds writer Mike Barrera (@mbarrera1323).
Philadelphia Union's dream of winning the CONCACAF Champions League in their debut season continues.
Kacper Przybylko's late equaliser ruled out Santiago Sosa's first-half strike as the Union drew 1-1 at Subaru Park. However, Philadelphia qualified for the semi-finals, winning 4-1 on aggregate.
Sosa scored on the stroke of half-time as he managed to curl a shot into the far corner giving Andre Blake no chance.
Przybylko's late equaliser came following great work from Cory Burke, who did brilliantly to find the striker inside the area. Przybylko took a good touch before smashing the ball into the roof of the net from six yards out.
Jim Curtin made three changes after Saturday's defeat to NYCFC. Kai Wagner and Kacper Przybylko both came into the starting XI, replacing Matt Real and Cory Burke, who dropped to the bench. Jose Martinez missed the game through suspension, and Leon Flach started in his place.
Sergio Santos had the first chance of the game in the sixth minute. Jamiro Monteiro's through ball split the back three of Atlanta, and Santos was through on goal. He got inside the penalty area and shot with his left foot, but he dragged it wide of Brad Guzan's goal.
In the 11th minute, Union fans thought they had taken the lead. Alejandro Bedoya did well getting out of the corner and played it to Olivier Mbaizo. The right-back got into the penalty area and did brilliantly to get around the defender. As he did, he shot towards the near post, trying to beat the oncoming Guzan, but it went the other side of the post, rustling into the side netting.
Philadelphia had another good chance through Flach minutes later. A nicely worked counter-attack saw Anthony Fontana pass the ball to Santos. Santos played it the first time, and it ended up in the path of Flach. The German midfielder tried his luck first time, but it was an easy save that was straight at Guzan.
Monteiro had a shot blocked around the 30th minute after some nice footwork to get past his defender. The rebound fell to Bedoya on the edge of the box, but his blasted effort was also blocked.
Mbaizo had another good chance in the 36th minute. A step over fooled his man, and he put the ball onto his right foot. He struck his shot with force, and it had enough to sting the palms of Guzan. However, it was straight at the Atlanta goalkeeper.
Fontana was next to come close. Santos passed it to the midfielder, who did well to create space for himself 20 yards from goal, but Fontana's low-drilled effort whistled just wide of the post.
Despite the first-half dominance, it was the visitor's that broke the deadlock on the stroke of half-time. Santiago Sosa received a pass outside the box and did well to turn his marker. As he got into the area, he curled a shot towards the far post, and it nestled into the bottom corner giving Andre Blake no chance.
HALF-TIME: Philadelphia Union 0-1 Atlanta United
The Union started the second-half brightly, but Monteiro received a yellow card as he committed a foul after he lost the ball. The subsequent booking meant Monteiro would miss the first leg of the semi-final.
Jake Mulraney's shot from 25 yards left Blake rooted to the spot in the 54th minute. Mulraney tried his luck with a left-footed effort, but a deflection dragged it wide of the post. The following corner for Atlanta came to nothing.
Marcelino Moreno was next to test his luck, but his shot was a tame one and a comfortable save for Blake.
Przybylko had Philadelphia's first chance of the second-half just short of the hour. He created some space for himself and curled a shot towards the far post. His effort took a deflection and went out for a corner. The resulting corner saw Jakob Glesnes come close as his header from Wagner's cross whistled just over the bar.
Bedoya came inches away from equalising for the Union. Monteiro's corner towards the near post was flicked on by the oncoming Bedoya. His header looped over everybody hitting the base of the crossbar whilst Guzan watched helplessly.
Sosa tried to score his second of the game in the 77th minute. The ball fell to him 25 yards out from the goal, and he tried his luck. However, his effort proved comfortable for Blake, who easily got down and brought it into his grasp.
In the 87th minute, Przybylko equalised for the Union. Substitute Cory Burke was the architect as his pressure forced a mistake in the Atlanta United defence. He got on the end of the loose ball and played a lovely pass across the box into the feet of Przybylko. The Polish forward took a touch before rifling it into the roof of the net, giving Guzan no chance.
Burke almost found a last-second winner after being denied by Guzan. Jack McGlynn played an excellent pass to allow Monteiro in behind the Atlanta defence. Monteiro then lofted a cross into the centre of the area, allowing Burke to rise and head towards the bottom corner. Guzan was equal to it and parried it away from danger.
FULL-TIME: Philadelphia Union 1-1 Atlanta United
Philadelphia Union: Blake; Mbaizo, Glesnes, Elliott, Wagner; Bedoya, Flach (McGlynn 89'), Monteiro, Fontana (Real 66'); Santos (Burke 70'), Przybylko
Unused Substitute: Freese, Turner, Sullivan, Colin
Atlanta United: Guzan; Lennon, Walkes, Robinson, Bello; Lopez, Sosa, Hyndman; Mulraney, Martinez (Torres 80'), Moreno
Unused Substitutes: Franco, Ibarra, Lundgaard, Campbell, Ambrose, Conway